Thursday sees the start of the final golfing major of the year, the Open Championship, held this year in Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
The 148th Open will be played on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim. And it’s largely due to the exploits of Rory McIlroy (with some help from Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell) that the oldest major is heading back to this part of the world.
Rory returns to a course where he shot a brilliant 61 as a 16-year old as a worthy favourite. He has had three top five finishes in the Open since his victory at Hoylake five years ago, a nice warm up in Scotland last week and a keen familiarity with the venue. Yet, the weight of expectation will be great.
We wish Rory all the best, but worry that this expectation will be too much and we’ll look elsewhere.
For our main bet we’re going to continue to side with Henrik Stenson. We collected each way cash on the big Swede at the Scottish Open last weekend and we were very impressed with his iron play. It’s only three years ago that Stenson won this tournament at Royal Troon, and we think he can do so again.
Another market we’re going to look at is that of the first round leader. Looking at the weather forecast, early tee offs on the Thursday look like getting the best of the conditions. The first three ball of the whole competition includes former Open winner Clarke, a local favourite but more of a ceremonial starter these days, Irish amateur James Sugrue and notorious fast starter Charley Hoffman. The American can only benefit from Clarke’s local knowledge and genial nature, and we’ll side with him.
Continuing this bet, fans of this blog will know that we like Betway’s offer in the majors to pay out as a winner if your player tops the leaderboard on any of the first three days even if he doesn’t win.
With this in mind, we’re going to use this bookmaker to side with Shane Lowry. The Irishman tees off reasonably early on Thursday, suggesting he has a chance to post a good score, but we think he also has the game to win given his ability to play in the wind.
For our final selection we’re taking advantage of the generous each way terms a lot of the bookies are offering given the competitive nature of the market. Adrian Otaegui is a steady golfer who plays well in the wind. He shot 16 under last week at the Scottish Open to finish in the top 20 but is quoted at 350/1 for this event. He is an outsider, but that’s still a big price.
Stenson 1 pt each way at 28/1, 1/5 the odds for the first eight places, bet365
Hoffman 0.5 pts each way at 150/1 to be first round leader, 1/5 the odds for the first seven places, BetFred
Lowry 1 pt to win at 66/1, Betway
Otaegui 0.5 pts each way at 350/1, 1/5 the odds for the first 10 places, SkyBet
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